Within the past couple days or hours, something very strange has happened. Maybe the Synthetic Plague the government was working on got unleashed. Maybe a voodoo priest's spell went awry. Maybe an alien space probebroadcast a weird signal at the Earth, or fell to Earth and brought radiation with it. Maybe there's just no moreroom in Hell.
Whatever the cause, the result is the same; the recently dead have risen, en masse, to feed on the living. With each victim they claim, their numbers swell, and no force on Earth can contain them. As society collapses, it's up to the Big Damn Heroes to fight their way to safety or keep shooting until things blow over.
The Zombie Apocalypse has arrived.
While Horror is assumed to be an inherent part of the zombie apocalypse, not all the horror and conflict comes from the zombies themselves. Instead it can come from the reaction of the living humans involved, and how they respond to the state of fear and violent chaos brought about by the zombies. Often, the answer is "not well". The breakdown of society, the fear that your Fire-Forged Friends could be infected and turned against you without warning, are at least as important to a zombie story as the zombies themselves, if not more so.
Common to virtually all Zombie Apocalypse tales is that, regardless of the reason zombies attack living/non-infected people, they never attack other zombies. Whether they'll attack animals other than humans varies, but it's rare for The Virus to affect other species, probably because it's cheaper and easier to film humans in make-up than to work with animals, whether trained, animatronic, or CGI.
Due to the threat that zombies pose (they did just become the apocalypse, after all), protagonists of more serious works are required to become very genre savvy very quickly (but will demonstrate genre blindness with regard to the word "zombie" itself). Failure is often the only option in these stories; rarely do they have an ending that could be considered "happy" by typical standards, or indeed one where humanity survives as a species. Another main staple is that things will always, always go From Bad to Worse. Either from the character's actions or circumstance which are out of their hands, no matter how improbable it is.
The Militaries Are Useless trope is a must in such a movie to avoid the film ending in five minutes. If they ARE actually competent, they'll just also happen to be evil.
The collapse will also take place very quickly, over a period of weeks or months, instead of years. This prevents society and/or the main characters from adapting, and also makes Convenient Comas somewhat plausible. In the occasion where collapse occurs in a couple of months, a nuclear submarine or aircraft carrier could realistically be expected to weather the entire outbreak start to finish in perfect isolation and safety. This will never be brought up. Characters will also assume that their portable radios have infinite reception and frequency range, and local dead air means a completely global collapse.
Another common staple of the Zombie Apocalypse is that the zombies are often not the most dangerous enemy that a survivor will face. It's usually other survivors, power-hungry maniacs or regular-hungry people who want to attack you to get at your food and shelter. Expect an aesop about how Humans Are the Real Monsters to be thrown about (after all, a zombie is just a degraded human!)
Subtrope of Our Zombies Are Different. A member of The Undead trope family. See Night of the Living Mooks for cases where zombies don't threaten the end of the world. See also Zombie Gait, Everything's Deader with Zombies. Raising the Steaks is what happens when humans are not the only creatures that can be infected by The Virus. The zombie apocalypse is almost always a case of Guilt-Free Extermination War. Expect a healthy dose of Infant Immortality - for despite a population of millions of children at any given time in any human population very few will become (visible) zombies - and when they do show up it will just be one child zombie, for audience effect. Also expect the Incongruously-Dressed Zombie to turn up for occasional comic relief.
The trope Zombie Apocalypse refers to any kind of undead apocalypse — the common traits of this trope are that the undead spread rapidly, wipe out humans primarily by eating or biting them, and are usually highly infectious - even if the undead happen to resemble vampires or yet another kind of monster more than zombies.
If you are looking for different types of Zombie, see Our Zombies Are Different. Not to be confused with Vampire Apocalypse: The Series by Derek Gunn.
A Zombie Apocalypse can be considered a sort of Came Back Wrong on a very large scale.
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If Toshiba doesn't make their laptops drop-resistant, the resulting chain of events will cause a zombie outbreak. Their latest marketing campaign has the CEO imagining various worst-case scenarios if some seemingly minor feature isn't added to their latest product.
The manga series, Highschool of the Dead features a bunch of typical high school anime characters put into a zombie apocalypse in which everybody who dies and was dead before almost immediately turns into a flesh-eating zombie. On a number of occasions, this manga pays homage to previous zombie movies and games. Notable in that the zombies are actually played as realistically as possible — the protagonists test and figure out that since the dead have no circulation, their eyes cannot possibly work, meaning that they find things from vibrations (throwing a wet cloth at a locker on the other side of a hallway will draw them to it); no circulation also means that with the local humidity, the zombies will decay to the point of uselessness in a little under a month (although nobody has a clue how the zombies are still moving).
Highschool of the Dead also subverts the traditionally leftist/libertarian politics behind most zombie-themed works, and is one of the few that takes on an explicitly right-wing nationalist stance. An uyoku dantai group provides safe and effective harbour for survivors (whereas the "normal people" undermine it), and the military is shown to be effective at containing zombies. There are also some scenes where the characters lament the stupidity or myopic priorities of groups of anti-government radicals and protestors. Speaking of characters, the main cast includes: the rich, blue-blooded daughter of the uyoku dantai leader, an Heir to the Dojo with traditionalist Yamato Nadeshiko views and styles, a gun nut trained by a Blackwater mercenary, and the daughter of a police officer (and, by extension, The Man), while the head of the group is praised by the uyoku dantai leader for his filial piety (family loyalty). The anime had some scenes involving Saya's family altered because it became increasingly apparent to the Media Watchdogs that the creators were trying to make a political statement with an unpopular group.
The licensed English translation also tries to downplay the right-wing politics of Highschool of the Dead. For instance, in one scene a character likens the Ukyou Dantai group to a mafia — in the Japanese Saya rejects that and defends her father's group, noting how it's a force for good in the community; in the Yen Press version, however, she only growls "we're so right-wing even the mafia hate us", which quite badly distorts the original point.
Spoofed in an episode of Urusei Yatsura. Alien toothaches are contagious, and if the sufferer bites three or four people, the pain will go away. In short order the entire classroom is filled with crazed teenagers with swollen faces and a burning need to bite each other and any non-infected that they can. It's like a very silly Zombie Apocalypse.
In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, the justification for the Plan 34 massacre is that the Hate Plague Hinamizawa Syndrome could cause a Russo-style Zombie Apocalypse if it started spreading out of control. The manga-only chapter Onisarashi-hen shows precisely what happens when Plan 34 fails and the disease breaks quarantine: aside from a few isolated cases, life goes on as normal. The person who created Plan 34 deliberately lied about how dangerous the Syndrome was in order to get it approved.
Higurashi Kira's second episode features a fog that zombifies the residents of Hinamizawa by brainwashing them and making them act hostile towards those unaffected by the fog. The fog was created by - you guessed it - Miyo Takano.
The Kaku special is even closer to an actual Zombie Apocalypse than anything else in the series.
Parodied in the Thriller Bark arc of One Piece, where pretty much every single zombie convention is shattered. Here, zombies can move pretty quick, they get tired, they have resorted to fighting each other on a couple occasions, and bite from them has no effect; plus, the giant zombie is actually the fastest one of the bunch. However, this does make sense considering these zombie are made by implanting the personality and move set of a living person into a specially modified corpse. Thriller Bark zombies feel no pain, however. They feel fear just fine, but not pain.
In a Naruto Shippuden filler arc, a group of ninja has a special jutsu that makes zombies. It turns out that the zombie apocalypse facing the leaf village is actually a diversion, and the real goal is to revive 4 powerful ninja monks who can use a lightning jutsu to destroy the village in one shot.
During the Fourth Shinobi War, Kabuto uses the Edo Tensei to resurrect and control hundreds of the various nations' most powerful shinobi for use against the Shinobi Alliance.
Fullmetal Alchemist has the Cyclops Army, "lesser homunculi" released by Father. They behave a lot like zombies, but headshots don't kill them. They also eat people, and beg for "mama" and "daddy".
In the 2003 anime version'smovie, the Gate inexplicably turns a group of Thule Society soldiers into zombies. They also have thick suits of armor. The Big Bad has some knowledge of alchemy, and so she's able to control the zombies when she passes through the Gate. This results in armored, machine-gun-wielding zombies with militaristic capabilities.Badassity ensues. About their only real weakness is that they possess the zombie gait.
Subverted in Kara no Kyoukai, the zombies are around for about a minute before Bad AssKnife Nut Shiki shows what happens when zombie meets very well aimed knife.
Panty & Stocking did this on their eight episode fittingly titled ...of the Dead which parodies most Zombie Apocalypse tropes. In a surprising aversion. The title characters not only fail to stop the zombie outbreak. But end up becoming zombies themselves. 'Course, as this is a gag show, things are back to normal the following episode. It should also be noted that in this universe zombies can zombify angels, demons and Ghosts.
Franken Fran has a zombie outbreak on an island. But it's a Deconstruction. Why? It's actually a disease, and its victims are unable to talk or do anything about it. Fran does note that they're all going to be killed by the survivors if she doesn't do anything soon, but not only was she bitten and forced to detach her head from her body in order to cure herself without being infected, but the chapter ends before she can actually do anything about that or the other victims.
Black Butler has one on a Titanic-sized ship they're "only" artificially reanimated corpses.
This is the main plot of Apocalypse no Toride. The main characters are 4 boys who have so far survived the zombie apocalypse by being in a high security juvenile delinquency prison.
I Am A Hero: features a loser otaku trying to stave off angry hordes that are consuming Japan.
Hellsing has the villians causing a zombie apocalypse in London as a side effect of their powers. But that is the least of the protagonists problems. You read right. As a SIDE EFFECT and it's the LEAST of the characters problems. It is althrough hinted that the zombies (along with the vast fires) causes much more damage than the villians main activities.
The Marvel Universe comic Marvel Zombies, spun off from Ultimate Fantastic Four, fused this with the Super Hero genre, to transform the superpowered characters into intelligent, Russo-style zombies. Zombiism in this series causes decay and an incredibly powerful craving for non-zombified human flesh. Although the virus can infect anyone, the super-powered zombies still kept their powers, and thus quickly overwhelmed and devoured all the defenseless, normal humans. The series starts on a world where they're the only ones left, having already hunted down and eaten every last non-zombie person on the planet.
In addition, Marvel Zombies discusses why they do not turn on each other; zombie flesh is unappetizing, and flesh imbued with the Power Cosmic is more nourishing to the zombie-ized superheroes.
Also, the zombies are able to stay sane and focused after they have just eaten, though it was later revealed that the hunger also goes away if they go without eating flesh for a sufficient amount of time, making it more like a drug addiction.
Later on, they're attacking the main Marvel universe. Good thing Aaron Stack is a robot with chainsaw hands...
A later series also hints that the zombie virus is sentient, with various zombified characters referring to it as "the Hunger Gospel".
Amusingly, this was actually itself made fun of in Marvel Zombies 5, in which the characters go to the real world and talk about how the trope itself makes little sense.
The Goon is all about zombies, all are created by an unnamed Zombie Priest to be his army, most are fully sentient and can do pretty much anything (others are standard Romno) also the bulk of them are all former Mobsters.
Amazingly, this even happened to The Smurfs. The Smurfs started out as a Belgian comic book, and in the first issue, "The Black Smurfs", a Smurf is infected by a disease that turns him jet-black, violent, and unable to speak. He then spreads the disease by biting other Smurfs, and Papa Smurf and the few other remaining normal Smurfs have to find a cure. This story, despite having nearly every element of the modern Zombie Apocalypse, predated Night of the Living Dead by nine years.
When the story was adapted for the animated series (see below), the color of the "zombie" Smurfs was changed from black to purple, presumably to avoid any accusations of racism.
The Papercutz translation of the original comic book story to English also changes the infected Smurfs to purple.
Gary explains the events of the first issue, Les Schtroumpfs Noirs, here.
The Walking Dead is an ongoing comic book that follows Rick Grimes, an Atlanta sheriff who Slept Through the Apocalypse, as he tries to find a safe place for his family and a rotating cast of other survivors. Since it is an ongoing series perpetuated by Rule of Drama, any safe haven is a Hope Spot at best, and Rick's life is perpetually a From Bad to Worse scenario. The narrative only follows Rick's story, so it is unknown how bad the apocalypse is, but the zombies have at least overrun the East coast of the United States. The zombies follow typical Romero rules.
The Walking Dead is a unique case of the Zombie Apocalypse setting. Firstly, the zombies are presented as more like a natural disaster than a consistent threat: the true conflict of the series comes from interactions with fellow survivors and other group members. Secondly, bites do not infect people, as the virus is airborne and people turn on death, meaning the likelihood of a widespread outbreak occurring is much greater. Thirdly, the USA as a nation state collapsed long before the story starts, leaving people as scattered, nomadic scavengers. Finally, walkers seem to have good hearing and smell but poor eyesight. This functions as a double-edged sword: on one hand, walkers are drawn to gunfire and thus survivors must be careful about use of firearms, but on the other hand, it is possible to sneak around zombies provided you stay out of sight and don't attract attention, placing more emphasis on stealth and melee combat. This overall makes the idea of a widespread outbreak more realistic and plausible, while addressing commonly cited issues people have with the setting.
In Dead West, zombies rise up in a town built on ground where a Native American tribe was slaughtered. Then a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo by the Man With No Name shows up and things get interesting.
Zombies Vs Robots (and its sequel Zombies vs. Robots vs. Amazons) starts out in a post zombie apocalypse world where man's former servants fight to protect the last uninfected baby.
The Black Lantern Corps in the Green Lantern story "Blackest Night" are a particularly nasty variation. The zombies are reanimated by flying rings that are programmed to automatically seek out corpses. As long as the rings are still worn, they can construct zombies out of almost anything, even empty skeletons, so damage to the brain doesn't kill them. They are neither slow nor stupid, regaining all the skills and abilities they had in life, including any superhuman powers. The number of Black Lanterns in existence is truly Legion, recruited from multiple different planets across the entire universe. Worst of all, while Black Lanterns do possess many elements of their former personalities, they will all kill any living thing they encounter without hesitation or remorse.
They actually have to kill people to recharge their rings. One ripped out heart, filled with one of the seven emotions, equals 0.01% power restored to every ring. Not that they need the incentive.
Worse yet, even though they're magic zombies revived by power rings, their bites still carry part of The Virus. Hope the rest of the universe is more Genre Savvy than Donna Troy.
The series Crossed is a 28-days series done with Garth Ennis's subtle touch. The infected like to rape people to death and do other absolutely horrific things. They do not lose their intelligence and they can talk. Oh, boy do they talk. The crossed will prey on each other if there are no uninfected around, and they get bored. Ennis calls this the most fucked up thing he's ever done.
Zombo, had this as a background in the far future, where a zombie apolcalyse is sweeping through the galaxy, and being hushed up by the government. The eponymous Zombo is a human/zombie hybrid (DON'T TRY TO THINK ABOUT IT) created by the govenment to fight back. Zombies personalities are exactly the same as when they were alive, except they now crave human flesh. It's a weird story, even by 2000AD standards...
Previous to Crossed Ennis wrote a Judge Dredd / Strontium Dogcrossover zombie apocalypse story called "Judgement Day". The necromagus Sabbat has zombies attack every Mega-City on Earth, overrunning five (which Dredd has nuked) and killing three billion before being stopped. Mega-City One's response to the zombies, by the way, is "Estimate sixty million plus! OPEN FIRE!"
Another 2000 AD strip, Defoe, involves a motley crew of adventurers fighting zombies in the 17th century using weapons provided by Isaac Newton and Robert Hook.
The comic Dead Eyes Open takes the Zombie Apocalypse and turns it on its head: people are rising again as the undead, yes, but the undead are intelligent, mostly want to be left alone, and are generally in more danger from the living than vice versa. One character is also trying to invoke the Zombie Apocalypse in the most literal way possible — ie, creating an apocalypse that will wipe out all the zombies.
A UK-original story in the MarvelTransformers Generation 1 comic involves a plague of reanimated Transformer corpses overrunning Kalis city-state under the command of rogue Autobot Flame, which forced Autobot and Decepticon to join forces to defeat them.
Impaler depicts the start of a Vampire Apocalypse which, by the end of the second volume, reached Class 0 proportions, with no sign of stopping. Possessing the ability to become Made Of AirLiving Shadows and manifest long shadow Combat Tentacles, it only takes two days for what started as a few dozen vampires to become a few million and infest New York City to the point where it has to be nuked. It takes less time for them to wipe out Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
Damn Nation takes place five years after a Vampire Apocalypse has mostly wiped out the United States. The government has abandoned the lower 48 states, and the rest of the world has put the country under quarantine.
The near-future "found journal" Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection, which is presented as the journal of Seattle doctor Robert Twombly, has the western seaboard of the United States and some of Canada overcome with a zombie uprising in 2012 caused by, of all things, an experimental food preservative gone bad. Although Twombly is implied to have been killed at the end, since his journal cuts off with a blood splatter on the last page the fact it was found and published suggests (in the context of the journal's universe) the zombies were successfully stopped somehow.
Zombies Calling has a zombie apocalypse taking place in a campus on a university.
Horror/dark fantasy publisher Chaos! Comics had one carried out by one of its own flagship characters, Evil Ernie. The zombie apocalypse was limited to the eastern United States, eventually spilling out across the country during the company's own Crisis Crossover. After that event established a multiverse for Chaos!, there was supposed to be a title using established characters in a world after the Zombie Apocalypse, but Chaos! went under before it saw print.
Not the first fanfic to present a zombie apocalypse, but Zombies uses this trope as the backbone of the plot. Its one big video game crossover and the Zombie Apocalypse is quickly wrecking civilization, and the monarchs who attempt to deal with it are summarily killed off for their efforts.
Dead in Ohio manages to combine Glee, slash and the Zombie Apocalypse. Word Of God states it's a Cross Over with Zombieland in that it takes place during the same zombie outbreak, even though the Glee characters never encounter the Zombieland characters (though the complete destruction of Columbus, Ohio in the film happens in this fic too). Not Using the Z Word is played with, as the very Genre Savvy Puck starts calling them zombies right away, while Kurt initially states that he doesn't believe that what's walking around out there is The Undead, but if Puck wants to call them that, then fine. Notable is that, unlike many works featuring a Zombie Apocalypse, the characters here are successful in pulling off their long term plan for survival, thus avioding a Downer Ending.
Under Cover Of Darkness: A Magic School Bus fanfic in which an older Ms. Frizzle's class has to survive a mauler apocalypse. It's one big Shout Out of The Walking Dead, though not a true crossover. While it follows a similar storyline to the tv series, there are notable differences. There are characters that share names with TWD characters, but they are not the same people, and the story isn't set in Georgia.
Night of the Living Dead and its sequels. Perhaps because the original film predates most of the zombie canon, it actually avoids many of the "rules" it is credited with creating. Some zombies in the Romero canon can move quickly, use tools, and show problem-solving ability. These abilities are increasingly developed through the sequels. Also, the term "zombie" is never actually used. They are called "ghouls" instead.
The 2004 remake Dawn of the Dead (2004) updates the setting and has a much larger cast. Zombies are also distinguished from the original by being capable of sprinting.
The Return of the Living Dead film series resulted from a dispute between John Russo and George Romero, which split the Night of the Living Dead sequels into two branches. Russo only lived to make the first film with his new partner Dan O'Bannon. The Return of the Living Dead series is more campy and humorous as well as more grotesque than Romero's more famous films. The zombies have human-level intelligence, specifically eat brains rather than just human flesh, and are much more difficult to kill. The first film lampshades its departures from the original by acknowledging the existence of Night of the Living Dead as a movie within its world. One character even exclaims, "You mean the movie lied?!"
Return of the Living Dead Part 2
Return of the Living Dead 3
Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis
Return of the Living Dead: Rave from the Grave
28 Days Later is a zombie film with Technically Living Zombies who are afflicted with the "rage virus," something akin to super-rabies. Zombies are called "the infected", and can spread the condition through any bodily fluid transfer.
In the Italian film Nightmare City (a.k.a. City of the Living Dead) the zombies are radioactive,drink blood instead of eating flesh, and can run.
REC, and the American remake Quarantine document the first stage of a zombie apocalypse with an In-Universe Camera. In these films, the zombies are afflicted by a disease described as similar to rabies. It's hinted that a mysterious tenant intentionally created the disease.
In Lamberto Bava's Demoni, the creatures are more like monsters than zombies, but they work with zombie rules and may have been an inspiration for straight zombie films to follow.
Blending Zombie Apocalypse with Our Werewolves Are Different, Mulberry Street gives us a virus that's transmissible by rats as well as humans (totally screwed was the phrase, wasn't it?), and turns infected people into rat-faced, rampaging cannibals. Subverted in that the Virus goes into remission at sunrise, restoring victims to normal, albeit not until after the protagonists have killed off their loved ones in self-defense or mercy. Similarly, Reliquary, the sequel to Relic, has those affected by a watered-down virus (it turned you into a horrific cocktail of dinosaur/primate DNA in the original) turned into light-shunning, psychotic, rat/lizard faced things. The even more watered down version just turned you into something like a 28 Days Later zombie.
Shaun of the Dead plays the concept for laughs, while at the same time remaining faithful to the style of the Romero films. Like those films, it includes hints that zombies retain some semblance of their former personalities. It also includes a Take That against the Twenty-Eight series.
Brilliantly skewered in the 2006 film Fido, which occurs in an alternate 1950s that is in the heyday of a zombie post-apocalypse. The zombies have been tamed into domestic servitude by a control collar. This is possible because zombie bites do not cause a change. Billy Connolly plays the eponymous character, one of the most charismatic shambling corpses ever shown on the big screen.
The Resident Evil based movie series with Milla Jovovich is more straight forward survival horror, although zombie apocalypse elements are involved from 2 on to the end.
Night of the Creeps features the alien entity infection variety, where the victims could either remain sentient or become mindless shamblers looking to continue infecting others.
Slither also includes an alien infection, where zombies are infected by parasitic worms and controlled by a hive-mind. The film is partly an Homage to and an Affectionate Parody of zombie tropes.
The French movie Les Revenants (They Came Back in international release) has 70 million people climbing out of their graves... and peacefully returning to their old lives, trying to relearn speech and basic motor functions, and generally not killing anyone.
Gangs of the Dead aka Last Rites had homeless people zombies created by radiation from a meteor that fell to earth attacking so the Latino and black gangs had to more-or-less put off their fight to stay alive.
Day of the Dead (2008) shows a virus that turns people into zombies starting out as flu symptoms. About half the town is infected and comes down with what is thought to be the flu, but then everyone infected simultaneously stops moving for about five minutes, then visibly rot from the inside out within seconds, killing them, and turning them into flesh-eating zombies.
J'Accuse! aka I Accuse (1921) is possibly the earliest zombie apocalypse style movie ever made complete with political commentary. What starts as a typical patriotic war story of lost loves, turns into a Zombie apocalypse when the millions of dead soldiers of World War 1, march home from the battlefield to lay the blame for the war at the feet of those that stayed behind.
The same premise makes up Joe Dante's "Homecoming" (from the Masters Of Horror anthology), where soldiers rise from the dead en masse to vote out the administration that sent them to war. It's only when said administration starts treating them like horror movie zombies that the violence begins...
Zombieland uses the fast zombie variant. They aren't very clever at all except where required by the Rule of Funny, and are pretty much limited to basic functions such as turning doorknobs and climbing fences and scaffolding, putting their minds at about "pissed off monkey" level. They were created by The Virus and can spread it through bites. They're also seemingly immune to pain, leading to the first two of the lead's Rules of Zombieland: Cardio (zombies can run fast, making it important to be able to run faster) and the Double Tap (put another bullet into the head after taking one down to make sure).
ZA: Zombies Anonymous aka Last Rites of the Dead (2006) gives a new spin on the Zombie Apocalypse: the outbreak has happened, the dead are walking the earth, but they are still functioning — although mostly closeted — members of society. The movie is a good study on prejudice, showing the new world through the eyes of the recently-deceased Angela. Most of the living prefer the dead to stay dead, but most of the "mortally challenged" just want to be left alone; there are, of course, extremists on both sides, the living who actively hunt down the dead, and vice-versa. The social commentaries aren't subtle, and can be quite agitating at times, especially during the climax.
Colin (2008) plays the Zombie Apocalypse pretty much straight, with the eponymous zombie as the protagonist.
Tokyo Zombie is a 2005 Japanese live-action Zom-Com about a pair of bumbling Jujitsu practitioners where zombies of the shambling variety first appear by popping out of a mountainous pile of garbage, toxic waste and discarded bodies called Black Fuji. Within 5 years all of Japan is covered in zombies except for a pyramid-shaped building inside a wall where rich people have gathered for safety and to amuse themselves with zombie-on-zombie as well as zombie-on-human fights to the undeath.
Flight Of The Living Dead (2007) is a zombie movie which was clearly inspired by Snakes on a Plane, since it takes place in the confines of a commercial airliner. The film's zombies follow the Russo mould, in that they can move faster than a shamble, but the incubation time for the virus varies wildly - some are infected and do not turn until a good while afterwards, whereas some are zombified almost as soon as they die.
The Zombie Bloodbath trilogy (1993, 1995, 2000) proves to be capable of bringing forth Narm Charm unlike anything you've ever seen.
Heavily subverted in Dead Heat, a cops vs. zombies movie with a Whodunnit to Me plotline. Police detective Treat Williams dies in the line of duty, but is brought back temporarily with a resurrection device concocted by the corrupt scientist he was investigating. No apocalypse is forthcoming and no flesh/brain-eating ensues, as the zombies retain their free will if they're revived immediately after death and are compliant Mooks if resurrected a bit later.
Dead Air continues the tradition of virus-infected Technically Living Zombie films, with the infection being caused by a compound spread by terrorist attacks in the United States' major cities.
Rockabilly Zombie Weekend seems to get to apocalyptic levels, as the method of transfer (government mosquito repellent sprayed over the tri-county area, plus infected mosquitoes and spiders) allows for it to randomly spread to many places at once without a single Patient Zero that can be quarantined; within a few hours, the entire area is seemingly entirely populated by a few dozen survivors, a handful of soldiers with minimal equipment, and the zombies. A CB radio check with another survivor confirms that the highways to the airport are blocked, though it's unclear if it's due to massive death and destruction or massive traffic trying to flee.
Warm Bodies and its adaptations are set against the backdrop of a Zombie Apocalypse. It's a Romantic Comedy: apparently, when a zombie in the setting of the movie version eats brains, they get some of the memories of the victim, and if that victim's girlfriend is nearby...
Cockneys Vs Zombies sees a zombie infestation grip modern day London, with a group of five criminals, their two hostages-turned-allies (well, for one of them) and expletive loaded granddad fighting against the Romero style hordes roaming old London town, with a number of regular tropes lampshaded in the process.
Raymond E. Feist's fantasy literature has the Black Slayers: dead warriors called back to life using necromancy, or in one case, using the authority of the Goddess of Death. Once called, they are virtually unstoppable, where even severed body parts will wriggle towards each other to reassemble.
Near the end of the Serpentwar, a magic user casts a spell that continuously reanimates all corpses in the battlefield to do their bidding. This has friendly and enemy soldiers both being killed off and rising again to fight for the magic user.
She does it again in Inanna's Descent to the Netherworld, sort of a Spin-Off of the Epic of Gilgamesh. She uses the Zombie Apocalypse threat against the gatekeeper of the underworld, and after deliberating with Irkalla's queen (Inanna's sister Ereshkigal), he agrees to let her in, on the condition that she remove her clothing and jewelry at a series of checkpoints.
Max Brooks' The Zombie Survival Guide is a handbook on how to survive a zombie apocalypse. Its advice is based around classic zombie behavior that is not quite rooted to any specific source. It breaks down the hazards and strategies in detail, from zombie strengths and weaknesses to effective combat tactics.
Max Brooks' next effort, World War Z is a mockumentary of a past zombie invasion, conducted in a series of interviews with survivors from around the world. The interviews are ordered so as to take the reader through the war chronologically, from "Patient Zero" to the Zombie Apocalypse to the eventual human victory. The interviews are supposedly conducted by Max Brooks himself. When The Zombie Survival Guide is mentioned and criticized, the "interviewer" says, "Oh really?"
In Teresa Edgerton's Celydonn novel The Moon and the Thorn, Lord Cernach causes the Cauldron of Cerridwen to be recreated, which has the power to create an army of phantoms every twelve hours. Cernach's stated intention during the design phase of the work was to use it to extort concessions from Mochdreff's Governor, who preferred diplomacy to military action. Cernach becomes Ax-Crazy, and uses the cauldron.
Brian Keene's Dead Sea features a zombie plague that also affects cats, dogs, and rodents in addition to humans. After the characters flee the land for the sea, they discover that the plague is spreading to other mammals and eventually fish. By the end, the plague has reached the birds. Zombies do not result from demonic possession in this book as they do in his other books.
It does contain a 'blink and you'll miss it' reference to an incident in The Rising so it may be a case of Unreliable Narrator.
The Rising and its sequel City of the Dead by Brian Keene play with several zombie tropes. As a result of a scientist messing with things he oughtn't to mess with, a portal to Dimension Hell is opened. Now, every time any animal above the level of "bug" dies it is possessed with a malignant, sadistic demon with one purpose: kill more creatures and let more of its buddies into the world. So we get zombie animals: zombie cats, zombie birds, zombie rats, zombie hump-backed camels, heck, zombie alligators in New York City's sewer system. As noted in the introduction above, zombie animals equals totally screwed. At the end of the second novel, the zombies win. They succeed in wiping out all higher animals and move on to bugs, plants and unicellular creatures. Their ultimate goal is to make Earth a lifeless hulk before moving on to other worlds and then to storm the gates of Heaven itself.
Garry Kilworth's Welkin Weasels: Castle Storm features a being called a "ghoul", but effectively it's a zombie; the villain resurrects a badger corpse via (surprisingly disturbing for a kids' book) necromantic rituals. The resulting being obeys his every command, but displays a hint of personality in a Shout Out to Frankenstein when it begs him not to call it a "monster".
In the Stephen King short story "Home Delivery", an object orbiting the Earth (either an asteroid covered with seriously weird worm-like creatures, or it's worms all the way down...) is somehow causing the dead to reanimate. The story was originally published in a collection of Romero homages called The Book of the Dead.
Similarly, Cell, another King zombie novel, has people turned into zombies by cell phones.
In HP Lovecraft's Reanimator, Dr. Herbert West devises a chemical that will bring dead people back to life. Unfortunately the subjects either die (again) within minutes or turn into flesh-eating creatures that share more that a slight resemblance with your average zombie (they retain normal human strength and speed though). He eventually get better at reanimating, creating an intelligent zombie who can reanimate more bodies. The intelligent zombie then leads an army of other zombies to kill Dr. West.
Hell, the spine is their weak spot (as the head is the weak spot in normal zombies), since the chemical is injected into the spine.
Jonathan Maberry's book Zombie CSU The Forensics of the Living Dead is a What If? scenario in book form. The author has interviewed Real Life Police, SWAT, doctors, hospitals, 911, and even DHS about what they would be doing to react if the Zombies began walking the earth. Delightfully enough, all the agencies and groups interviewed in the book had already given the question some consideration and had strategies formulated. Yes, even theDHS.
His novel Patient Zero, has a genetically engineered version of The Virus (that infected unusually fast via parasites and prions along with the viral cocktail) that creates Zombies used as a weapon by jihadist terrorists who come up with a strain that allows for smart zombies.
His other novel Dead Of Night has an engineered version of The Virus that was meant to leave a serial killer awake in his own rotting corpse, Buried Alive. Unfortunately, instead, it raised him as a zombie, and an intelligent one. The resulting Zombie Apocalypse got contained, but they never found and stopped patient zero.
Richard Matheson's 1954 book I Am Legend, while it was about vampires and not zombies, is an important precursor to the genre. Matheson's novel was adapted into the films The Last Man on Earth, the most faithful adaptation, and later into The Omega Man, which apes the then-recent Night of the Living Dead to a degree and turns the vampires into Luddite photophobic albino mutants produced by biological warfare. The most 2007 adaptation, I Am Legend, has the infected more like an odd cross between zombies and vampires.
In Robert Mccammon's They Thirst, Los Angeles is overtly taken over by a Vampire Monarch and his servants. With each person bitten becoming a new vampire. He uses a magical device that creates a perpetual sandstorm around the city to keep people inside during the day, while at night the vampires raid homes. By the end of the book, there are hundreds of thousands of vampires.
David Moody's Autumn series is somewhat novel in its setup: the story begins with 99% of the world population dying - in the following weeks, some of the victims get better. The most novel aspect of his approach is that for the majority of the first book, the zombies are benign, just wandering about at random, with the result that we can see that "Holy crap, dead people are getting up and walking around," is really freaking scary entirely independent of the possibility of being eaten by a zombie. Of course, at the end, the zombies do become violent, and the whole thing just slips into the mold of the standard survivalist zombie apocalypse story. It is also somewhat novel in that the protagonists plan, for most of the story, to simply wait the zombies out, on the assumption that they will eventually decay past the point of mobility.
A good half of Clark Ashton Smith's work features Zombies of the non-contagious variety, generally custom animated by necromancers. In at least one case they 'outlive' their creators and carry on with what they were doing before they died.
John Wyndham's 1951 novel The Day of the Triffids, while concerned with genetically engineered Man Eating Plants, foreshadows many themes of the contemporary Zombie Apocalypse. Society collapses after an atmospheric event causes mass blindness. The sighted and unsighted alike struggle to scavenge a living while being hunted by this new predator. Eventually the sighted protagonists retreat to the countryside and barricade themselves in a farm house, fending off repeated Triffid attacks. The book is heavy with social commentary and contains memorably hellish imagery of shambling, groping masses of humanity. The Triffids themselves have a rickety, limping gait and are slow moving, awkward creatures of little threat individually (unless they catch you unawares). In large numbers, however, they are a serious menace; able to force their way in anywhere and seemingly capable of rudimentary communication and organization. The most effective way of stopping one is to 'decapitate' it using special blade firing weapons. It has been adapted as a lightweight 1962 monster movie (casts the Triffids as extraterrestrial plants) and a more faithful (albeit stagey) 1981 television series, and then again as a TV series in 2009.
Another Warhammer 40,000 example: the second Soul Drinkers novel features the ridiculously powerful mutant-psyker Teturact, who would induce these, then bring it to a halt while forcing any survivors to worship him as a god. His main starship has been set up so that it can self-destruct and provide a drop assault Zombie Apocalypse.
David Wellington's Monster Island and its sequels provide Romero-style zombies with an exception: if your brain is provided with oxygen between death and before returning as a zombie, you return as an intelligent zombie which the sequels call a lich. The dead are reanimated as a result of a scientist having pierced the source of Life Energy, causing the world to overflow with life energy, reanimating the dead. The trilogy is available online.
"The Concord Virus" is a rather traditional example of this trope. It's a short story, but it manages to get the job done.
This was one theory about what some of the bad guys in the Old Kingdom trilogy had in mind, since hordes of zombies are their favorite mooks and they were taking thousands and thousands of refugees into the country. Unfortunately, they were actually thinking a bit bigger than what Sabriel and Touchstone were expecting.
Happened in Fire Sea, third book of The Death Gate Cycle. In this case the effect was not pandemic but might as well have been (almost all the zombies were necromancers in life and simply animated every corpse they came across) and rather than being mindless they were sentient but Ax-Crazy with hatred for the living (except for Kleitus, the leader of said undead, who was still Ax-Crazy but also smart enough to have vision- he was gunning for ruling an entire zombified universe.) Mercifully, they were contained on just one world of the series multiverse at the end of the novel, and in the climactic volume Kleitus was killed in battle and the rest of the undead were destroyed by what could best be described as "cosmic reshuffling".
The Newsflesh series by Mira Grant (pseudonym of Seanan McGuire), in which bloggers and geeks are the only reason that humanity survived the Rising. Subverts and lampshades lots of related tropes, while playing others straight (notably zombie animals: any mammal over 40 pounds will reanimate upon death).
Walter Greatshell's Xombies series deals with an odd combination of Romero and Russo rules; the titular 'xombies' are the result of a contaminant which can only infect dead people (due to the fact that it has to bond to anaerobic hemoglobin, or a blood protein that isn't bound to oxygen). The zombies in this series are especially dangerous because they literally can't be killed. Separated body parts are sometimes more dangerous than actual zombies. In the second book, it is revealed that the zombie apocalypse was an attempt by its creator to avoid a far worse apocalypse from a comet/spaceship from Saturn's moon Encaladus.
In the episodic ebook series Zombies! by Ivan Turner, a Genre Savvy 17 year old is the first to alert the authorities to the threat, thus subverting the trope because the authorities handle it carefully and sensibly enough that your average citizen doesn't even notice the undead walking among them.
Another Biblical example, this one involving a sort of inversion: In the Book of Ezekiel, piles of bones are assembled and fleshed out. They then receive the breath of life from God, and form an army. (They are probably more in the category of Technically Living Zombie or even Back from the Dead, though.)
In the 1961 novel The Day They H-Bombed Los Angeles by Robert Moore Williams, mutated protein molecules invade Southern California, turning people into flesh-eating zombies.
The web-novel Domina is about a number of super-powered zombies called "screamers" attacking an island city. Hasn't hit the actual apocalypse stage yet, but the Reasonable Authority Figure is rightly worried.
Rot & Ruin takes place about 15 years after an unexplained Zombie apocalypse, and while the zombies are relatively easy to kill (zombie hunters tend to make a game of it) the society is still kind of in shock, so the idea of any organised take-back-the-earth campaign fails to gain traction when it's brought up. Something of an unusual example in that while the main characters do kill Zombies, one of the main points of the book is that just because they're walking around doesn't mean they're not someone's dead relative who deserves respect
Diario de un Zombi has this as the setting for a depopulated Barcelona. Add in unstoppable biomechanical horrors and cultists.
Subverted in That Is All; the Zombie Apocalypse is one of the few things that doesn't occur during the Ragnarok of 2012. The only creatures that rise from the dead are taxidermied animals, and they are harmless because they are all mounted on wooden planks.
In the children's book Zombiekins, an elementary school is infected by a magical teddy bear that carries a zombie plague that is ignored by the teachers because it causes the infectees to quietly move in orderly straight lines and take their seats at the sound of the bell. They obey every school rule except the one about not biting other students. Since it's a children's book, the condition does turn out to be reversible.
In Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick, some sort of electromagnetic pulse instantly kills all adults and turns most teenagers into zombies.
Comes up in Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead. Long ago the people of Necropolis killed a witch's son, and she cursed them, saying that if they did not respect the dead, the dead would rise and destroy them. A mad scientist, looking to create an army of zombies, started raising corpses using a serum. The resulting undead follow orders and don't bite, but are tremendously strong and tireless. He ended up applying a lot of the serum to the massive graveyards, besieging the Necropolitans. The heroes were able to come up with a counterserum which they applied liberally to all the undead - it's a children's book, but this serum simply turned zombies back into corpses which then had to be reburied.
Dark Inside has similar themes to this, but they're not exactly zombies. Rather than being mindless monsters, something turns the majority of citizens into amoral, thrill-seeking, violent monsters who retain full brain capacity and personality traits. Their only pleasure is to hunt and kill, for the sake of it.
In A Song of Ice and Fire, wights are undead zombies created by and under the command of the Others, which are essentially ice demons. Wights have blue-glowing eyes and are particularly vulnerable to fire. Wildlings north of the Wall, where the Others are located, burn their dead to prevent them from returning as wights. As the series begins, Others are becoming more aggressive and amassing large armies of wights, seemingly in preparation for an invasion of the kingdoms to the south.
In the Patternist series, a sci-fi version of this happens when the starship Clay's Ark returns to Earth contaminated with an alien virus that turns humans into predatory savages. While not literally undead, and still possessing some intelligence and cunning, the "Clayarks" as they are called are basically zombies in all but name, including the ability to spread their disease to others creating more of the their kind. Eventually they overrun the world and destroy civilization, except for fiefdoms controlled by the psychic"Patternists".
John Ringo's Black Tide Rising series is about a virus that turns people into Technically Living Zombies and about one family's efforts to both survive themselves and to save as many others as possible. Ringo decided to write it because of his oft stated dislike for most examples of the genre.
Kill the Dead, a novel in the Sandman Slim series has the title anti-hero dealing with the dead rising en mass in Los Angeles. In the end he winds up destroying every zombie in the greater LA area and possibly every one in the world.
In Undead on Arrival, the apocalypse was five years ago and humans have pretty much lost.
Live Action TV
Mythbusters devoted an episode to surviving an attack by a zombie hoarde. Among their findings: an axe is a more effective weapon than a shotgun, and pushing your buddy into their numbers may give you a better chance of escaping yourself. It was odd how they kept saying, "Even though Zombies aren't real..."
Spoofed on an episode of Happy Endings: Max and Jane get into a dispute leading to a Zombie Apocalypse Olympics that tests athletic prowess, ability to be still, aim, and ruthlessness. Jane eventually wins by demonstrating ruthlessness in pushing Max out in front of a group of hungry, hungry hipsters, even though Max had earlier claimed that ruthlessness was his strong suit.
The Borg of Star Trek fame are almost Zombies IN SPACE!! One guest star even referred to them as cybernetic zombies.
The two-part serial "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances" is a neat twist on the Zombie Apocalypse, with alien medical nanobots encountering a dead human child, assuming that's the human baseline, and rebuilding him and all other humans they encounter as shambling corpses. The walking corpses in the earlier episode "The Unquiet Dead" are closer, but they are actually hosts for the ghost-like aliens called the Gelth.
"New Earth" set in a hospital in the year 5 billion and twenty-three on, naturally enough, a New Earth which is run by cat people. Towards the end, we find out that the doctors have been growing people in an enormous area under the hospital and exposing them to various diseases from the moment of their conception, which has turned them into your common-or-garden Romero zombie. Of course, the buggers get out and mischief ensues.
The Sarah Jane Adventures did a zombie-themed story for the show's pilot episode, "The Invasion of the Bane". In this case, the zombie effect is caused by consuming a new energy drink that turns out to be a symbiotic life form. The resulting zombies try to force others to drink the stuff.
The UK horror series Dead Set involves a zombie apocalypse in Britain, with the plot revolving around the contestants of Big Brother as they are trapped in the house.
Degrassi The Next Generation had a Halloween special called Degrassi of the Dead in which genetically-modified food turns people into zombies, leaving the few surviving students to fight for their lives to escape.
Although they are not real, in an episode of Spaced, "Art", Tim takes some bad speed and plays Resident Evil 2, essentially making him hallucinate a zombie attack throughout the whole episode. The Twiglets he ate at the party didn't help either.
Discovery's The Colony is a reality TV show that takes place after a simulated "viral catastrophe". It's basically a zombie apocalypse with the zombies cut out.
An episode of Smallville called "Rabid" dealt with a zombie apocalypse.
Though not a classic example, the dark future of the Dollhouse resembles a Zombie Apocalypse. A signal was sent to all telephones on the planet that would wipe the listeners' minds, and program them to kill anybody who didn't hear the signal. In result rabid hordes of lunatics hunt down the few remaining normal people in the ruins of the civilization; a very strong similarity with this trope.
That Mitchell and Webb Look features a recurring sketch about a game show taking place in a world where an unspecified, but clearly horrific and traumatising, "Event" has happened. Food is scarce, there are no more children, there are frequent exhortations to "Remain Indoors" and the survivors live in terror of a mysterious Them, who look like us because they used to be us. The latest episode has revealed that They are sephulchral voiced, red-eyed zombies with a taste for human flesh. Oh. And they've got in. It's hinted that this is not the worst part of the "Event".
The Sliders had an alternate dimension Earth, where, get this, a new "fat burning" medicine causes a Zombie Apocalypse. The drug was meant to "eat away" fat and an antidote would be taken to end the effect... However something went horribly wrong and millions of people started to hunger for fat, even if that fat was of another human. For some reason these zombies also became very sensitive to light, possibly having something to do with the zombies becoming excessively pale. Also the zombies aren't of the risen dead variety, but will die without feeding as the medicine - possibly an engineered virus considering it transfers with getting bitten - will simply eat them alive if they don't get fat to their system..
The X-Files episode "Millennium" deals with a zombie apocalypse with the advent of Y2K. Obviously, going back and watching this episode over a decade later, it doesn't hold nearly the same punch as it did when it first aired in 1999.
The second season Halloween episode of Community deals with a zombie plague breaking out in the college. The group must try to escape, reach the thermostat to lower the temperature, and not be driven insane by the "Mama Mia!" soundtrack.
Misfits has a zombie episode in the third season. Curtis brings a cat back from the dead, zombie apocalypse ensues, body count sky rockets.
Derren Brown's Apocalypse special sets up a fake apocalypse scenario in order to get an unsuspecting guy to man up and take responsibility for his life, as well as to start appreciating those around him. After a series of fake news reports about an impending meteor strike, the guy is on a bus traveling to a (fake) rock concert when pieces of the meteor start to fall all around him. He passes out (put into a trance by Derren) and wakes up in a deserted hospital seemingly two weeks later with a news report warning about a Rage Plague brought by the meteor fragments. Then crazy people start chasing him and his young companion (naturally, all of them are actors). The special is inspired by the 2012 end-of-the-world fears.
This is the basis for the Creature Feature song, "Aim for the Head".
"Shoot To Kill" by thrash-metal band Warbringer is about gunning down zombies. Boom Headshot indeed.
"Re: Your Brains" by Jonathan Coulton. The narrator, Bob, is a zombie who seems to have been made merely sociopathic by zombification, rather than mindless, since he retains his sapience and incredibly middle-management personality while attempting to persuade his co-worker Tom to let him eat his brains. Other zombies are mentioned, but they seem to be the standard nonsapient kind ("...my colleagues, who were chewing on the doors").
The music video for Metallica's "All Nightmare Long".
Most of Cannibal Corpse's album covers and quite a number of their songs feature zombies (and the same goes for the bajillion gory death metal bands they inspired). The name itself, according to bassist Alex Webster, refers to a zombie who feeds on other zombies.
"This is a slow one...grab your girl...and then shoot her in the head!"
The Devil Wears Prada's concept EP "Zombie", as the name implies, centers around one of these. The lyrics and sound clips in between songs (such as the quote at the top of the page) rely heavily on the genre's many clichés.
Part of the Meta Plot of mc chris'note his name is not capitalized music. After he's assassinated in Dungeon Master of Ceremonies by his Recording Agent in an attempt to invokeDead Artists Are Better, chris returns in mc chris is dead as a sentient zombie leading an army of the undead to get revenge.
I wait 'till they day's end when the moon is high
Then I'll rise with the tide with a lust for life
I'll amass an army, yo I'll harness a horde
Then we'll limp across the land until we stand at the shore.
Blogging example: on 13th June 2007, the blogosphere declared a zombie apocalypse. While this page contains the biggest list of links, it is no means exhaustive.
The Red vs. Blue Public Service Announcement "Planning to Fail" detailed the Zombie Apocalypse survival plans of the main characters
Grif: There's two kinds of people in the world Doc. Those who have a plan prepared for when the zombies take over the Earth, and those who don't. We call those last people 'dinner'.
The Spider Cliff Mysteries: Spider Cliff has the occasional zombie attack, which are all quickly contained offscreen. Except for Annabelle, the intelligent, intact, friendly zombie.
Last year Topps released a new card series titled Hollywood Zombies which features parodies of celebrities as flesh eating zombies.
Zombies are an Iconic feature of Gaia Online. Gaia has not one, but two Zombie Apocalypse events (one traditional, one involving Killer Rabbits), as well as a Vampire war that was functionally identical to a Zombie Invasion. In addition, Gaia has released two item based Zombie themed skins, and later brought back even more zombies for the Olympics (although they're created through a serum rather than The Virus).
The Zombies introduced for the Olympics played a part in the 2K8 Halloween event, where they were referred to as Glompies. They killed members of the other three teams by hugging them to death.
The website Last Days Journal is a user-generated series of blogs about what happens after the zombie apocalypse.
Xombie is a series of animated web shorts, trade paperbacks, and web comics that deals with the war between xombies, zombies, and humans. The schtick is that zombies are your average, run-of-the-mill reanimated dead, whilst xombies are corpses that retain their former intelligence, gain enhanced physical strength, some kind of crazy weapon, and high Animal Empathy. The original shorts revolved around the xombie Dirge and his dog Cerberus protecting a young girl (Zoe), on her way to the last human settlement.
So in other words, zombies are... well, zombies, whereas xombies are more like revenants as defined on the undead page?
A prominent Image Board's Weapons-oriented component routinely sees threads of what would you do during a Zombie Apocalypse. Anything from where would you go, to what weapons and ammo and supplies you carry is brought up. The board is getting fairly sick of it at this point.
Surprisingly enough, someone managed to make a Watchmen zombie apocalypse Alternate Universe fanfic, which you can find here, that really kicked ass. Probably because Rorschach is just about the only character that would wind up happier and saner upon becoming one of the flesh-craving undead.
Several SCP objects could potentially trigger this, especially SCP-008, which specifically invokes the trope. Additionally, SCP-093 allows access to a world where something like this has already happened; though the "zombies" are faceless, legless horrors, produced by a Sufficiently Advanced Alien, that have absorbed so many people that by this point they're the size of buildings.
The Far Side once had a strip depicting the "Night of the Living Dead Chipmunks".
The tabletop role playing game All Flesh Must Be Eaten is all about surviving the Zombie Apocalypse, with a variety of different Apocalypses in different settings (called "Deadworlds").
The back story for Unhallowed Metropolis puts a subtle but significant spin on this trope by having the first Plague outbreak occur in 1905. This is also the kind where anyone who dies may come back — although it's only a sure thing if they died of a bite from a zombie, there's a chance of it for any corpse, with the odds depending on the surrounding environment.
It's also hinted that zombies might be the least of the world's problems. Bizarre wastelands expanding throughout the world, reports of unnameable horrors and mind-rending blasphemies in the jungles of Africa and beneath the streets of London, hints that the people of the Crimean peninsula have undergone an unwholesome transformation that makes the degenerate ghouls and feral vampires look tame by comparison, Hong Kong somehow having become a true necropolis where zombies can survive long past when they should have desiccated into immobility... clues abound that the Zombie Apocalypse is just the most visible symptom of something having gone deeply wrong with the world on some fundamental level.
In Warhammer Fantasy zombies make up the bulk of the armies of the undead Vampire Counts (alone with other classic horror creatures like wights, ghouls and giant bats). They also use undead dire wolves. These zombies are reanimated corpses animated by the will of the vampire or necromancer who raised them and are slow and weak, relying on numbers to make any impact. Since Vampire Counts magic-users can effectively grow them out of the ground, numbers are NOT something they have trouble with...
Warhammer 40,000 brought on plague zombies during the 13th Black Crusade, courtesy of the god of pestilence and decay, and other zombie infestations have been known to be caused by Tyranids and a fair number of different plants.
Plague zombies have been part of 40k background for almost as long as the Chaos powers, and are a playable gang in the spinoff skirmish game Necromunda.
Magic The Gathering has had zombies since the first set, but the plane of Grixis, one of the Shards of Alara, is in a successful Zombie Apocalypse, albeit with necromancers and demons at the forefront, caused by the crapping out of two types of magic good at fighting them off. In any case, humanity is boned on the plane. Note that in Magic, zombies are notThe Virus; they cannot create more of their own kind through infection, but are instead created from corpses by Evil Sorcerers.
Grave Titan has zombies crawling out of its chest. Every time it attacks it gives birth to more.
The board game Zombies!!!, which seems to owe some influence to Resident Evil (the players have to shoot the zombies, and they win the game by escaping in a helicopter).
The GURPS Infinite Worlds setting has the Gotha timelines. Those are about twenty known parallel worlds where civilization was wiped out by the "Gotha Plague": a mutant disease that causes infectees to behave like the 28 Days Later variety. It specifies that the Plague has trouble establishing itself in small communities, so civilization on these worlds is in small enclaves.
The Gotha Zombies have a few differences from other zombies, though; they're semi-intelligent, and function more like a highly aggressive chimpanzee tribe in terms of organization than anything else. They're quite willing to eat zombies from other "tribes", and will even eat their own if there isn't any other food available.
They also retain just enough of their memory to fall back on some tribal customs from the group they belonged to—the reason worlds with them are called the Gotha Parallels is because the first contact with such a timeline resulted in the research team nearly being devoured by infected Gothic berserkers. Other worlds have zombie Thuggees, zombie Vikings, and so on.
In 2008, Palladium Books debuted their own Zombie Apocalypse game: Dead Reign. Featuring a mish-mash of tropes and abilities. (The majority of the Zombies are tough, slow-moving ones, but there are also fast zombies, thinking zombies, zombies that don't believe they're zombies, and "half-dead".)
The Corpse Factories in the Feng Shui supplement Glimpse of the Abyss are Buro-created superzombies that are markedly more intelligent than the non-infectious zombies that they create. Only five of these things exist in 2056, and if just one of them gets loose, it's Zombie Apocalypse time, particularly since the Necromantic Implanter, an arcanowave device that every corpse factory is equipped with, can be used to turn regular zombies into more corpse factories.
In Exalted, this is one of the favored tactics of the more militarily inclined Deathlords. High level Necromancy can raise corpses en masse, and certain spells can even corrupt an area to the point that the dead will rise of their own accord. Eye and Seven Despairs, one of the Deathlords, has even pioneered a zombie plague that works on its own accord, but is too busy tormenting the reincarnations of people who screwed with him in the First Age to actually deploy it.
Deadlands has zombies, but these things are intelligent and cunning. Makes them hard to put down. Particularly if they're intact enough to be shooting back.
The World of Darkness games actually subvert the zombie apocalypse. While Zombies do exist, they're not exactly common, and aren't normally infectious.
There was an adventure done by Thomas "Wanderer" Wilde (best known for his Resident Evil plot guide) that took this trope head-on, called The Last Escape.
While there isn't necessarily an infectious means of Zombie Apocalypse, certain ghosts and spirits in the New World of Darkness have a chain of Numina that allow them to jump into a corpse, then jump into any corpse that corpse kills, then possibly invite some friends along...
Dungeons & Dragons zombies are simply mindless, reanimated corpses with no risk of infection, and are among the least dangerous of The Undead. However, there are quite a few undead with the "create spawn" ability, and several of them are incorporeal.
The "Infectious Zombie" template was provided in the 4th-edition supplement Open Grave. Unfortunately, actual rules for the zombie plague were not, despite being alluded to in the template.
In the previous edition, wights are probably the closest thing to more traditional zombies.
The "Viral Deathspawn" template from D20 Modern - Apocalypse can be used in 3.5 D&D without modification (not that you should want to). It is worth noting, however, that Viral Deathspawn have only a -2 to their Intelligence score, meaning you can potentially have "zombies" smart enough to understand logistics, chain of command, sneak around, potentially use weapons and traps.
The World of Greyhawk campaign setting included a zombie variant known as a "Son of Kyuss," which was an aggressive zombie with green worms crawling about in its eye sockets. If the worms landed on someone, they burrowed under that person's skin and attempted to reach the brain, at which point the victim would become another Son of Kyuss. Given the nature of some of the beings in the game, these creatures were probably too weak to cause a full-scale apocalypse, but they could easily wipe out an entire village of zero-level humans.
In the 3.5 edition book Elder Evils, there's a world born dead, Atropus, whose coming is marked by the undead rising from their graves in a zombie apocalypse. As in some other Zombie Apocalypses, his coming may cause anyone who dies by any means (not just killed by a zombie) to rise as a zombie (or skeleton if there's not enough flesh for a zombie). When Atropus gets close enough to the planet anyone who's dead will reanimated as a skeleton or zombie by tearing out of their graves even if they were killed years ago.
The board game Last Night On Earth has several different scenarios to play through during a Zombie Apocalypse.
Strike Legion has a localized zombie outbreak as one of it's story hooks. This being Strike Legion, the zombies in question are faster than Olympic sprinters and can throw tanks.
Rhinoceros is a play by French author Eugene Ionesco that revolves around people spontaneously becoming rhinocerotes. They're destructive, but not violent, and one must apparently choose to become one (or at least not actively choose not to). Though mostly comedic, it still has the feel of a Zombie Apocalypse, not least because there's only one man left standing at the end.
How The Day Runs Down is a zombified version of Our Town.
In Dwarf Fortress, zombie apocalypses are now completely possible, and are one of the deadliest threats a fortress can face if the ball gets rolling. You see, every creature killed in evil biomes will, if not quickly cremated, reanimate and join the undead horde. This can include even the most minute body parts - even mussel shells. Once the zombies start racking up a few kills, they quickly becoming a massive ball of flesh and bones that reanimates itself faster than it can be killed. If you're really unlucky, you might instead have fog banks that turn normal creatures into horrific life-hating ghouls. Sometimes it's dust that rubs off onto things fighting with them, by which point there's nothing more to do...
Becoming one of those horrific life-hating ghouls by evil fog doesn't necessarily end an Adventuring career, and by acquiring the secrets of Necromancy, the player can become The Virus, commanding an ever-expanding horde of animated dead over the world.
Resident Evil is generally an aversion of this trope. Though the games center on zombies, they're often times small localized outbreaks of The Virus, e.g. a remote mansion or an island. Only 2 and 3 deal with anything close to a zombie apocalypse, with the virus ravaging an entire city; in the end, the military manages to put an end to it, but only by nuking the entire city.
4 and 5 are something of a variant. There is a localized "outbreak" of sorts, but it's of living humans under the control of a Puppeteer Parasite, and said humans are organized and (more or less) retain their human intelligence. The outbreaks are also very controlled and deliberate on the part of the villains, and in fact, the parasite from 4 required the victim be injected with an egg.
Resident Evil 6 kicks it up a notch with zombies ravaging two fictional cities.
Averted in Overkill: the mutants were exposed to a Psycho Serum and it's not contagious otherwise.
Dead Rising is similar to the above Resident Evil examples in that the USAnote they only place where there are zombies (the Zomberix Dead Rising Sun film is a Show Within a Show) is kind of tolerating the zombies. Apparently,there are zombies out in the countryside of middle and Midwestern America, but being slow and fragile, they are not that big a threat individually. The danger comes in densely populated areas; Willamette in the first game, Las Vegas in between games, and Fortune City in the second game. The rapid speed of the outbreak in Fortune City is explained by the fact that the city was hosting Terror is Reality, an American Gladiator-style reality TV show about killing zombies en masse, and someone simply destroyed the gate on the zombie pens, releasing the show's extensive stock into the city. Dead Rising 2 also reveals that there is now a standard procedure for an outbreak.
Saints Row 2 has a zombie arcade game that strongly resembles Dead Rising.
Alliance Of Valiant Arms has the "Infection" game mode, where random players will become zombies and must then infect the remaining players who are attempting to kill them.
Left 4 Dead is fairly nonchalant with its predicament,(Zoey) can utter the following line; "I can't get over how fast they all are. It's not even fair! I'm calling zombie bullshit on that, you know? They're not allowed to be so fast."
The Virus in Left 4 Dead also seems to be a fairly flexible type. Whilst it turns most people into common cannon fodder zombies, what little backstory exists suggests that it can target certain aspects of infectees to create the Special Infected. Infection is transferred via bite, and can take approximately an hour to set in depending on circumstances. Certain people seem to be 'blessed' with utter immunity (or were just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time; ie, offshore or in the air and nowhere near the spreading infection), making the four heroes not the sole survivors.
Thanks to the events of Left 4 Dead 2 and the comic of events taking place after Left 4 Dead 1, it's been discovered anyone who can resist being changed into a zombie are actually carriers; people who carry the virus and can't mutate, but can still spread it to others, effectively making anyone who is an immune survivor spread the virus forever. The military sees these survivors as almost an enemy to humanity and are rounding them up for quarantine so they can try to find a cure, or kill them if they can't find any.
A fan theory is that copious intake of certain substances can change your inner chemistry enough to react to the infection. The Boomers are severe alcoholics, the Smokers are multiple packs a day chain smokers, The Hunters are meth fiends, The Witches crack-addicts, and the Tanks juicers.
Also note that in the intro movie, Bill notes that the zombies are mutating, so it could be different strains of the virus.
There is also a subversion to the rule that the zombies don't fight each other, but it happens so rarely that you may not see it at all at first.
Two things throw into doubt whether this is a true apocalypse - the military's still in reasonable shape, having the capacity to launch rescue missions and bombing runs, and it's not stated what's going on in the rest of the world.
The Military Base portrayed in the Comic seems to show the severity quite heavily. The base appears severely understaffed, with only a handful of soldiers where there should be hundreds. The base is also extremely insecure, with one soldier getting Infected and nearly killing some guards, and a Witch somehow wandering right on in. To make matters worse, it's dangerously low on supplies, and one of the Officer's is leading a mutiny against the base's Commander. The base also appears completely isolated from the rest of the Military (if it's still even around). The Military Base is ultimately destroyed by a massive zombie mob attack, and all known personnel are KIA. However, due to the Infection's inability to spread over water, the Navy in Left 4 Dead 2 seems to be operating at full capacity.
Multiple maps show that almost all the evac centers in the US have been overrun or aren't evacuating anymore. In Crash Course, the New Orleans, Midwest, and Allegheny Forest outposts are still up and running. In Dead Center, only New Orleans and the Midwest are left. The entire United States has been overrun in 2-3 weeks.
Of course, by the time you reach New Orleans in The Parish campaign, it seems to be largely overrun and abandoned, too. Bill says "As far as we know, zombies can't swim", so it's possible that islands are still safe, as long as air travel didn't bring The Infection to them.
Space Pirates And Zombies, of course. You are Space Pirates! There are Zombies! What more is there to say? Well, actually, there is quite a lot to say, as the Space Pirates have got to wonder why there are no sentient alien species to speak of... then they open the Titan Gates, which they'd known about for quite a time, and all hell breaks loose because of them. True, they are Space Pirates, the terrors of the Seven Sectors, but that's no reason for them to doom all of Humanity to a zombie fate, like all the other sentient species before them. Yes, the Zombies were waiting in the center of the Galaxy for the next species, and it it weren't for the Space Pirates' efforts, they probably would have assimilated all of Humanity.What a way to go.
Project Zomboid has Knox County being overrun by zombies with you in the middle of it. Developers state in later versions of the game, later (provided you survived that long) the zombies spread worldwide, with repercussions ingame such as no electricity for ovens or refrigerators.
Both Doom and Quake, in both cases supernatural (and in neither case the main threat to humanity). In the former game, the zombies were undead foot soldiers (a few pistol shots would do one in permanently), still using the firearms they had been carrying in life (though Doom 3 introduced more regular walking corpses, which were originally intended to keep getting up as long as their corpse was intact, as revealed in a leaked beta; this was dropped from the final version because the Ragdoll Physics added to their deaths made it impractical). In the latter the zombies were shambling long-dead corpses in the Russo mould (nothing short of dismembering them with explosives would keep them down), though much more easily killed "grunts" more like the Doom zombies were found in the early levels of each episode (these may well have been still living, but possessed or otherwise mind-controlled). The Wolfenstein 3D games also had re-animated corpses as enemies, these created by Nazi Mad Science.
Quake IV features partially Stroggified humans whom for all intents and purposes behave like zombies, this is Lampshaded by another soldier.
The Doom novelization had especially creepy scenes where zombies, still bearing an imprint of their former lives, would mindlessly shamble to the grocery store, pulling rotting food from the shelves, walking past the cash register, and so on.
Quake's instruction manual explained that the Grunts had had cybernetics wired into their brain that stimulated their pleasure centers whenever they killed someone.
In Halo, the Flood, who seem to have originated from a galaxy outside of the Milky Way, are very capable of causing an apocalypse. The infection forms first turn any sentient lifeforms they come across into zombies. Eventually, the infected beings begin to deteriorate and bloat, releasing more infection forms, which go to infect other people and so on and so forth, until they gain enough biomass to form a variety of "Pure" Flood forms, including the Gravemind, a hyper-intelligent hive-mind containing the memories and knowledge of every single being in history to have been assimilated by the Flood. This intelligence manifests itself in the ability of the Flood to utilize complex technology, strategize, and fully communicate with non-infected beings (the last known Gravemind even had a tendency to speak in trochaic heptameter). They were so powerful that the only way the highly-advanced Forerunners managed to defeat them was activating the 7 Halos in order to kill all sentient life in the galaxy and starve the Flood of their necessary nutrition. Even afterwards, they had a bad tendency of overrunning their holding facilities whenever outside interlopers stumbled upon them; they completely consumed the Halo in the first game, and end up doing the same to the Threshold research facilities, Delta Halo, and the Covenant capital city of High Charity in Halo 2. They got to Earth in the third installment, and were only stopped by the Covenant Separatists glassing a huge chunk of Africa. They also consumed the massive Forerunner instillation known as the Ark, where the current Gravemind and presumably all other Flood from the Milky Way more advanced than an infection form were finally destroyed.
The Forerunner Saga reveals that the Flood are in fact the malevolent remnants of a species known only as the Precursors, who were even more advanced than the Forerunners. There is also no true cure for it; the Flood can simply choose whether it wants to infect someone or not. The only organic sentient beings that seem truly immune to infection are those lacking sufficient calcium reserves and/or a central nervous system.
The third game also has a multiplayer mode where someone is "infected" and spreads it by killing people with the energy sword, and they come back to do the same. Eventually, you have a few regular people left heading for the high ground to snipe as much as they can before being overwhelmed. It is very unlikely (though possible with a few skilled players working together) for survivors to last until the end of the round. Infection variants on modified maps make up the Living Dead weekend event, which plays on random weekends as well as on Halloween.
Well, the third game was when it was made official and programmed in as a gametype by Bungie. It was played unofficially in custom team slayer games as early as Halo 2, by designating one team a zombie team, and the other a human team. This put everybody on the honor system though, since you had to manually change teams yourself. This, combined with the fact that some hosts went by Russo rules where you have to get killed by a zombie and only by a zombie to turn, while other hosts went by Romero rules where all deaths should make a convert, predictably lead to chaos and frustration when dealing with inexperienced, stubborn, or otherwise plain stupid players.
Counter-Strike had an influence on this, where the most favored zombie mode, Infection, has the opposing side as fast-running zombies, and the other as CTs/Ts. Whoever is hit by a zombie is turned into one, and so on. The second popular mode, called Zombie Riot, is a typical zombie apocalypse and is players versus computer-controlled zombies, with no infection.
According to creators, while playing with the AI for Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, they discovered that playing an outnumbered team of bots with knives only served as a makeshift zombie apocalypse scenario. This led to the creation of Left 4 Dead.
The TimeSplitters games are rather fond of zombies, and gives them amusing names like Gilbert Gastric, Daisy Dismay, and Mr. Fleshcage. The third game even had them quote a recurring line from Shaun of the Dead as a tribute, because Time Splitters 2 had a cameo in the film (as the FPS game that Ed and Shaun play).
Blood, a game created around horror movie tropes, had its fair share of zombies (the tougher variety's appearance taken directly from Romero's Night of the Living Dead). In the sequel, living dead were replaced by people taken over by supernatural wormlike parasitic beings.
The Half-Life series has its ubiquitous, iconic Headcrabs and the zombies they create when they attach themselves to a suitable host and commandeer its nervous system. Although incapable of infecting others directly, they otherwise behave identically to Romero zombies (Zombie Gait, mindless, dangerous in numbers, prone to Infernal Retaliation et cetera). In the original game they were weak and somewhat annoying enemies, rarely present in more than small groups. In Half-Life 2 and its Episodes however they cause two instances of this trope:
The Combine commonly use Headcrabs as a biological weapon, storing them in artillery shells which are fired on entrenched locations, the shell both causing structural damage and killing any nearby humans due to its impact or the Headcrabs it releases. When the Combine discovered Ravenholm, a small mining town used to shelter a large number of people who had fled from Combine control, it was subjected to massive bombardment by these weapons, and by the time Gordon arrives the only things he finds are corpses, hordes of Headcrab Zombies, and one shotgun-wielding Badass Preacher.
In Episode One the entirety of City 17 experiences this, the liberal use of Headcrab Shells during The Battle of City 17 and the destruction of the Citadel's Dark Fusion Reactor crippling Combine control of the region resulting in the city's underground infested with Headcrabs and zombies and the city itself under almost constant attack. With the complete detonation of the Citadel they are the only living things remaining in City 17 and even they are fleeing by Episode Two, creating a constant stream of zombies into the surrounding regions that attack humans and Combine alike. That Gordon Freeman, what a great hero.
The MMORPG Urban Dead. Unlike other examples, the zombies in this game are intelligent since they are controlled by players. While they do have a limited vocabulary, zombie players have come up with creative ways of in-game communication. And that's not even counting the Metagame on the forums. It also emulates the Romero model of zombies getting smarter. As they learn more skills, zombies can open doors, move faster, attack better, talk (sort of), track you down, and make a lot of noise to draw attention when they find a safehouse full of survivors. If one counts the RP, they're also highly mutated, undying, and God help us if they break from the quarantine.
The final level of The Simpsons Hit & Run is populated by zombies that can be run over, due to Kang and Kodos infecting Springfield with BUZZ Cola for kicks and television ratings.
The game The Sims 2 has zombies (introduced in one of the expansions). A mod on one of the most popular modding sites, MATY, changes their behavior so that they will fight and infect other characters in the game. The mod, aptly enough, is called Zombie Apocalypse. It should be noted that the zombies without the mod do not do this, and control essentially the exact same as a normal sim, the only except being that they won't die of old age. (Though they do think about brains a lot...)
They Hunger, set in a small town and acres of farmland and ruins, appears to use modified Russo rules - the zombies are tough, but they're still killable and don't drop from headshots, BUT they die if they're shot anywhere for long enough. It also includes semi-infected zombies who are smart enough to still use guns, and two of them are bosses.
The grunt troops of the Scourge in Warcraft III and World of Warcraft are all zombies, reanimated by the Lich King or his necromancers. In Warcraft III, most of them are infected by contaminated food supplies rather than being killed by other zombies, although the Lich King is known to raise troops that have died in battle against the undead. Those who are freed from the Lich King's control before they decay too much will regain their sentience, but obviously remain as rotting corpses. In month leading up to the release of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, suspicious crates and infected roaches found their way into various World of Warcraft cities, giving characters that came into contact with them the scourge toxin, turning them into rampaging, virus-spreading ghouls.
The Scourge forces also expand on the standard reanimation of dead corpses due to there being a number of necromancers deliberately creating more dangerous undead, leading to zombie giants, giant zombie dogs, zombie dragons, and huge constructs made from combining the flesh of women and children.
Death Knights are subversion in that the one's that joined the Lich King willingly aren't dead at all. All the others are powerful warriors that died at the hands of the Scourge and were immediately resurrected as the Lich King's elite troops. Due to this they haven't had time to adequately decay and usually just have paler skin. Also they retain their memories and personality after being resurrected, though they are still bound to the will of the Lich King.
While Lordaeron and Northrend are of course the major victims of this trope, being the Scourge's bases of power, Duskwood in the kingdom of Stormwind is currently dealing with animated skeletons that (probably) have nothing to do with the Scourge. The town of Raven Hill is in ruins, and Darkshire is constantly on watch. Of course, they also have to deal with feral worgen in addition to the undead.
What happened to Quel'thalas counts, only about eleven percent of the original population survived.
As the title character of Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse, you get to play a zombie, bringing terror to the Zeerust utopia of Punchbowl.
Possession, which, in addition to being able to lead a variety of zombies (slow, fast, intelligent, mutated, you name it) has the main character as a sentient zombie unleashing chaos on a corporate-controlled city.
There's a mission called "You Only Die Once a Night" where the Hollywood graveyard caretaker Romero(!) asks you to keep hordes of mindless zombies from breaking out of the cemetery. Infuriatingly enough, Romero has only given you the job of watching the graveyard so he can go out and buy porn! Some people neglect any duty they're given, it seems, which is why you're given the option of finding a prostitute for Romero instead of staying behind to cause a zombie apocalypse. Or, if female and with sufficient looks and poise, seducing him instead. The title card hilariously reads "Romero gets some lovin'." Romero specifically states getting bitten doesn't cause zombies, but it sure does hurt like hell.
There's also an earlier mission where you have to track down and kill the members of a cult of vampires that deliberately infects their meals with a horrible virus. You have to fight your way through a horde of zombies before you can take the last one on.
Space Quest V has the mutant Pukoids fulfilling this trope. A corrupt starship captain was transporting and dumping tetragenic toxic waste on remote colony worlds, which ended up wiping out several worlds, most of his crew, and eventually kills him (with a little help from Almighty Janitor Roger Wilco).
In the Japanese PS2 game The Zombie vs. Kyuukyuusha ("Zombie vs. Ambulance", and yes that's the real title), you drive around a zombie-infested city in an ambulance, attempting to rescue people and take them back to the hospital that serves as your home base so you can inoculate them against the zombie plague. If you take too long getting people back to base, they turn into zombies and start damaging your ambulance from the inside. And you can upgrade your ambulance so it can take more damage and more easily plow through hordes of zombies.
This game is part of the Simple 2000 series of budget titles, which also features a game called The Oneechanbara ("Zombie Zone" in the West), in which you play a bikini-wearing samurai girl who goes around slicing up zombies. While the gameplay isn't particularly brilliant, the game is definitely fun. It's proven so popular that sequels have been released on the Wii and Xbox 360, and there's even a movie. As a side note, in Oneechanbara, the Zombie Apocalypse is actually caused by the lead characters — well, they, and some of the villains. They have a "Baneful Blood" curse. If blood touches their skin, it builds power in them — with the downside that this power will eventually drive them insane and kill them. Meanwhile, their blood kills people and turns them into contagious zombies.
Battle for Wesnoth's Walking Corpses, and their level-up, the Soullesses. They follow the Russo rules, for the most part: any unit killed by a Walking Corpse or Soulless becomes a Walking Corpse or Soulless on the side of the Corpse that killed them, simulating The Virus.
Postal 2: Apocalypse Weekend features Mad Cow Tourette's zombies (apparently Tourette's syndrome sufferers who ate mad cow-infected meat). They normally shamble slowly, but can sometimes be seen stumbling forwards quickly (catching the player off-guard); they throw chunks of their own flesh to attack; their heads must be completely destroyed to kill them (merely cutting them off will do no good); and (for no other reason than the fact that the world of Postal 2 is already messed up as it is) you can resurrect dead zombies by pissing on them.
A new MMO currently in Beta, Dead Frontier, takes place after a Zombie Apocalypse with the player as one of a handful of survivors who must constantly make supply runs into the city, which has been overrun by zombies of many shapes, sizes and speeds, to procure food, medical supplies, new weapons and ammunition. It's important to note that most everyone has a place in the new society, such as doctors, engineers and even chefs, and those who try to go it alone may find themselves as zombie food more often than they'd like.
The FPS S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl has zombies in one part of the game, who are actually stalkers who have been mind raped by psychic emissions in certain parts of the zone.
One notable difference from conventional zombies is that the brain-burned humans often carry the firearms there were wielding in life. Zombies with machineguns, anyone?
In City of Heroes and City of Villains, zombies are counted among the servants of the Banished Pantheon and the minions of Dr. Vahzilok. Also, the Halloween events feature zombies that spawn from trick-or-treating, and the 2008 incarnation featured zombies crawling from the ground en masse. Finally, the Mastermind Necromancy primary set lets player villains summon their own zombie minions.
A game called The Last Guy features the zombie hero(?) rounding up the various survivors of a zombie apocalypse. From the looks of it, the zombies have devolved (or evolved) into large, dangerous, non-human things, however.
Infected features a massive zombie apocalypse in New York City, played Smash TV style. The player is Officer Stevens, whose blood is not only immune to The Virus, but actively destroys zombies, who are nigh-invulnerable to everything (it's implied they destroyed a tank battalion, and were able to wield weapons) by causing infected blood to explode. This results in the guys in charge of the quarantine to strap a blood gun to one arm of Stevens, give him/her weapons, and run around NYC, splattering zombies. For the record, the game is hilarious and fun, but short.
System Shock 2 had zombies as the first stage of infection by alien parasitic worms, including shambling, strange speech patterns, no vital signs, etc. Oh yeah, and they're still conscious, aware of what they're doing against their will, and apologise while they attack you and beg you to kill them. Later stages were considerably more monstrous, and quite un-zombie like.
The original System Shock had early mutants enemies that acted like normal zombies.
In Elite Beat Agents, one of the missions involves a very lighthearted parody of these in which the zombies are constantly giggling, spread the infection by kissing, and have allergies that cause them to return to being normal people after eating peanuts. Being a Rhythm Game, it's set to a cover of Survivor by Destiny's Child. It's just as wacky as it sounds.
Siren - these are particularly notable, as they retain some of their intelligence and memories of their former life, and although they become murderous and gradually lose the ability to speak language intelligible to humans, they try to re-enact their living life if not over-ruled by the Hive Mind; as the game was first released in Japan in 2003, and EU and US in '04, this actually predates the use of this concept in Land of the Dead, although not the precursors to it seen in Day of the Dead.
The game Overlord features an area infested with zombies, as a mysterious and agonizing plague turns its victims into the living dead. In a twist keeping with its tone and sense of humor, it's caused by the proximity of a slutty, disease-ridden Succubus Queen; apparently, what's a harmless STD to a demoness is a virulent Zombie Apocalypse-inducing epidemic for humans.
The Virus in Prototype is something like this, only about ten to fifty times worse. For one, unlike most Zombie Apocalypses, it spreads like a highly contagious disease, rather than just happening to already dead people or like something more akin to rabies. Then you get to things like the Hunters and Hydras.
Discussed and specifically averted in Tsukihime, though in regards to a Vampire Apocalypse instead. Shiki naturally points out that if there are vampires, and they have to feed so much, then why are there still so few? Arcueid points out that A. vampires don't get along well with each other and fight a lot and B. organizations such as The Church hunting them down, so they keep a low profile and avoiding making too many minions to avoid unwanted attention.
This seemed to be the original concept behind Raving Rabbids, but they decided to go with party games.
In FunOrb's Zombie Dawn game, you play as the Evil Overlordresponsible for the zombie apocalypse. Unlike most zombie apocalypse stories, these zombies are being controlled by someone - you. Also, the government is actually pretty competent. Anyone attacked by a zombie instantly comes back as one.
Plants vs. Zombies, you have to fight off a zombie uprising in your own backyard using nothing but aggressive plants.
In Zombies Ate My Neighbors the zombies are fairly weak (they can be killed with squirt guns), and aren't contagious. However it is possible to temporarily be turned into a zombie by drinking a mystery potion, causing your character to wander around and kill any survivors they touch.
Zombies are a part of the Necromancer's army throughout most of the Heroes of Might and Magic series. They also happen to be slow and weak units (compared to most units of the same tier). You can't even make that many of them. It is however possible to make a looot of skeletons in most of the games. In an average sized map it's not too hard to build an army with over a thousand skeletons, thus creating a skeleton apocalypse.
Metroid Fusion has a not-quite Zombie Apocalypse in the form of the X-Parasite. Once infected, the victim dies and is consumed, and the X mimics its form and abilities perfectly, eventually asexually dividing into more copies. If killed, it infects the killer or simply regenerates the body. They can even infect corpses to mimic them. One parasite can take over an entire Space Station in seconds. They are truly one of the most dangerous forms of The Virus in existence, beating out even the Flood in apocalypse potential. Easily.
It's taken Up to Eleven in Mass Effect 3 where the Husks of many different species are the primary ground forces of the Reaper invasion, and you have to fight entire hordes of them at a time.
Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Doctor Ned has you trying to clean up one of these with More Dakka. The Jakobs PA system has even been hacked to refer to it as such.
There's something like this in the Mount & Blade mod Solid And Shade, though it isn't an infection. Essentially, the main character is a necromancer and just animates the bodies himself. Though it feels a lot like an infection or apocalypse, since a good way to get corpses is killing them with your zombie army and then reanimating them. It is not uncommon to loose your entire army in a fight, and then get them back with the corpses of your foes. The zombies are semi-intelligent, as they can use weapons, but not sentient. They can be killed by anything that can kill a human, but are much more difficult to kill. They don't appear to require food, although not having food will lower the morale of the party overall (most likely because you still need it) and, due to game mechanics, zombies will abandon you if they have a low morale.
In a bit of irony, the player starts with a corpse in his inventory to start necromancing faster. According to the backstory, this body belongs to the necromancer he killed to get the book of necromancy in the first place.
There's another mod called Chronicles of Talera that features a faction called the Blighted Plague. It's basically a faction of egalitarian Necromancers that brought back the corpses of the dead to overthrow the aristocracy. At first they were good guys, but after discovering tools to capture the souls of their enemies they began a civil war that really doesn't play any role whatsoever in the actual game.
PCRPG Dead State is set in central Texas during a zombie apocalypse.
King's Quest IV: The Perils Of Rosella is one of the earliest examples of the trope, which is even more disturbing because it takes place in a fairy tale country of princesses, fairies and magical talking creatures. It is, frankly, terrifying. Fortunately for most young players at the time of it's release, they came late in the game. Due to the general unforgiving hardness of a Roberta Williams title, it was uncommon for any player to get that far without help.
Dead Island is about a zombie apocalypse in a tropical island resort in the South Pacific.
The early 80's Edutainment GameAgent USA is a G-rated Zombie Apocalypse, with people turning into walking balls of TV static and infecting others.
Arma and Arma II both featured popular zombie mods that turned an ultra-realistic tactical FPS into a zombie survival game. The use of massive maps and realistic effects and equipment makes them extremely immersive.
While the text/ASCII-based Hell MOO doesn't feature an actual zombie apocalypse (they go for the standard nuclear warfare), there is a zombie virus and some locations, especially the basement of the Bradbury hotel in Slagtown, are filled with them. Since all NPCs can be killed (with varying degrees of difficulty) and anyone who dies of zombie rot rises as a zombie if their corpse isn't butchered, one or two tough NPCs getting infected can easily result in a zombie plague hitting Slagtown; usually the Freedom City Police is skilled and tough enough to keep the spread outside their borders, but it can make wandering into Slagtown or Gangland suicide for a newbie.
In StarCraft 2, this happens to a group of refugees due to a zerg bioweapon. Raynor's raiders burn out the infested and help the refugees settle in on another planet— where it promptly happens again.
Call of Duty first gave us Nazi Zombies, which was the reason many played World At War. The game mode returned in Call of Duty: Black Ops where it got so bad zombies attack the Pentagon, fourcultmonsterhunters had to be called in and at the end, the Big Bad reveals it's all an Evil Plan to cause an apocalypse. Returned in the sequel with Tranzit, where four people need to decide whether to simply try to kill waves of Zombies that grow in power until they stop (they never do) or try to do the vague things one of two disembodied voices are telling them to do. Call Of Duty Black Ops 2 certainly fits this trope, as Marlton laments "I would not trade this gun for all the tea in China...if there even is a China anymore."
Dead Space features the necromorphs, these zombies are not just reanimated humans but 'reshaped' necrotic tissue who don't go down until you blow of a limb or three. Head shots are useless against them.
The curse of the Darksign in Dark Souls. Those born with it are marked as Undead and never permanently die, always coming back, losing a bit of their humanity each time. Eventually, they all lose their minds and become Hollows, highly aggressive, near-mindless beings that attack all others. This, plus the habit of throwing the Undead into the Undead Asylum, has destroyed countless nations.
Spoofed in Disgaea 4 with the A-virus, which is slowly turning all of the Netherworld into mindless zombies - Or rather, they're turning everyone into Axel, but the main characters see little difference.
The mobile game Rebuild involves a group of survivors building fortifications around a few city blocks and holding off vast zombie hordes. Your goal in the game is to recapture a number of blocks, look for survivors and convince them to join you, produce food and shelter for everyone, keep everyone happy, research technology to help defend against the zombies and cure infections, scavenge for supplies (food, weapons, dogs, binoculars, crowbars, etc.). Once you manage to secure the town, you are given the option of starting over in a new location with 5 people.
Downloadable PC Game Zombie Driver casts the player as an ActionTaxi Driver in the midst of an infested city where the outbreak was caused by a chemical explosion. The cabbie must rescue people trapped in various buildings and return them to an extraction point. He gets paid by the mayor for zombies killed and survivors rescued, so he can buy bigger and badder cars and weapons to run down zombies.
Though all three Diablo games featured undead, only Diablo III features an actual Zombie Apocalypse caused by the Skeleton King of New Tristram after a mysterious meteor crashed into Tristram's cathedral. Whereas in the previous games the zombies were mere mooks that you would meet and kill, this game features them much like a classic example, with them attacking villages and able to turn people they bite into zombies.
In AdventureQuest Worlds, Vordred creates this in the Doomwood Part 1 finale if the hero chooses to betray Artix and let Vordred become the Champion of Darkness.
Also, in Doomwood Part 2, Drakath grants Gravelyn's wish to bring her father back by sending her and everybody else to an alternate past created by him where he never intervened with King Alteon and Sepulchure's duel. There, this is what happens when Sepulchure kills Death.
Even the Yakuza franchise has gotten in on the act — in the game Yakuza: Dead Souls (a.k.a. Yakuza: Of The End), an outbreak of the living dead hits Kamurocho, and Kiryu Kazuma and crew have to take out the problem at its source as only they know how.
Die 2 Nite is a game set in a world already devastated by one of these. All that is left are a few small towns and buildings in a vast endless wasteland. Unlike many other games of this genre the main goal isn't to survive or find rescue... its to delay death as long as possible. Sooner or later, every town, every player, even the best, will die and have to start over in a new town.
Parodied in Lego Indiana Jones 2, when you reenter the level in which you escape the nuclear bomb, you find the town to be decimated and smoldering. You then build a device that brings the gray skinned dumbies to life! They can't do anything but irritate you but still...
The Dead Linger wants to provide the ultimate zombie survival experience. In the finished game, it will be completely up to you, whether you want to wander through the almost endless, procedurally generated (and zombie-filled) world alone or with your friends (or strangers) in multiplayer. You'll be able to reinforce a bus and use it as a mobile base or barricade yourself in a prison, barn, military base or other building (or build your own makeshift home). But of course, you'll have to scavenge food and weapons and other things. And also...you are not immune to The Virus.
In the Web Game series Infectonator, the main goal of the game is to inflict this on cities worldwide. You win once you completely destroy all the cities with your zombie plague.
Averted in Saints Row The Third when a small section of Steelport is infested with what appear to be zombies. It remains that way for the rest of the game however, so one could argue that the Saints are preventing the Zombie Apocalypse.
In TRON: Evolution and Tron 2.0, virus-infected computers are subject to this, as the corrupted Programs have their circuits turned from normal colors to a Sickly Green Glow, their directives and functions overwritten to the single-minded pursuit of healthy Programs to destroy or corrupt. And in both cases the plague master / Subject Zero was merely an Unwitting Pawn to the truly diabolical Big Bad.
The flash game Organ Trail is an Affectionate Parody of The Oregon Trail where the pioneer journey west in a covered wagon has been swapped out by a station wagon fleeing the undead horde from Washington DC (which has been nuked by the government in an attempt to quell the infection) for safe haven in The Other Rainforest. Along the way, your party will be scrounging food and shooting the horde and you're lucky if you aren't showing up in Oregon with at least three of your five party members already infected.
Several examples in Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Tatooine Republic world quest has a renegade Czerka officer using a Rakata artifact to make armies of "cyber-necrotic" fighters. and then there's the Taris rakghoul plague, which started via a Sithartifact, managed to get off Taris, and then Dr. Lorrik got a hold of it and thought it was a great way to conquer the galaxy and the pinnacle of evolutionary achievement...
Wild Star has an extremely bizarre version, where the explosion of an ancient terraformer has mutated the local Squirg (mind-controlling alien squid) population, and the creatures are now raising the dead.
Rebuild has you take back Canada from zombies, one block at a time.
Brawl in the Family's third Halloween episode started with Kirby walking towards Dedede, zombified. Soon, the entire cast was zombified. They all moaned 'braaains...' and began closing in on Mother Brain from the Metroid series. Now there are a bunch of zombies roaming the land, moaning, 'braaaaaiiiinss....' (except Mother Brain, who moaned, 'Meeeee....') The zombies then found a schoolhouse and studied hard and graduated, achieving the 'brains' they wanted. Then, it turns out the characters where just telling scary stories, and Kirby was the last one to add his part to the story. He apparently tells a disgusting and creepy tale, but the comic just skips to when he says, "The End!" with a very cute face while the rest of them look nauseous.
According to the Demononlogy page in Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures , one becomes undead only if they die within 24 hours of receiving a scratch or bite from an undead creature. This implies that the wound itself is not automatically fatal, and that if one died more than 24 hours after receiving it they will stay dead.
Dead Metaphor is a comedy set in a world plagued by zombie outbreaks. Zombies are very Romero-like in their actions and their desire to consume flesh — although the human population treats the zombies more as an annoyance than a threat.
Played with in Dead Winter; the city is full of zombies, but they're normally not a threat until a large number is encountered without an escape route. Other humans are far more dangerous.
The Adventures of Dr. McNinja's titular Dr. McNinja has faced one, of course. Zombie ninjas, no less. And zombie Ben Franklin. The zombies are contained thanks to McNinja and the mayor of the town (who is secretly a time-traveling survivor of a future ravaged by this very apocalypse) having set up anti-zombie defences for the city. McNinja is convinced the zombies have risen in revenge for him mass-murdering them in the previous storyline (for the greater good, of course). However, it is revealed the zombies are just a side-effect of a resurrection drug used by the clone of Ben Franklin after he was murdered in the previous storyline. The resurrection itself actually turns out to be part of a larger plan by Dracula. It's that kind of comic.
Last Blood with one hand plays along with this trope and with other hand subverts it. While that world, indeed, had experienced Zombie Apocalypse and majority of zombies are near mindless, hungry creatures, the First Zombie was, in fact, a vampire, who starved for too long, and completely retained his intelligence after transformation. This is also true for any other vampire-turned-zombie but not for their zombie "children".
Night Zero. Professionally made webcomic/graphic novel utilizing staged real-life photos.
Sluggy Freelance gives a quite elegant and reasonable-looking explanation for why zombies must eat brains (and other organs as well): as dead corpses, zombies are decomposing all the time, but are able to regenerate eaten parts. So if zombies want to keep their intelligence, they simply must eat brains. Or, to put it another way: "To keep our wits about us we need to eat the wits about us."
Additionally, the comic also address the issue as to why zombies do not attack other zombies:
"Humans taste like chicken! Zombies taste like crap!"
Also worth noting that Sluggy has so far had: straightforward ordinary zombies; people turned into socially dysfunctional geek zombies by brain-eating mosquitos; ghouls from another dimension which were treated with similar tropes to zombies but turned out to be of different origins; military research into weaponising zombies; and a zombie-themed restaurant. Not in that order.
The printed version of Van Von Hunter has zombies that crave brains, but are actually intelligent. After they have tasted some really good brownies made by gnomes, they changed their chants from "braiiins" to "brooownies" instead, and raid gnomes for more brownies.
In The Whiteboard, the two weeks to either side of Halloween 2010 featured a zombie uprising that Doc and Roger had to take down. This story arc updated daily, instead of the strip's normal M/W/F schedule.
Zombie Ranch takes place over two decades since the dead began to walk. In this case humanity not only managed to survive the disaster — they have adapted so thoroughly to the reality of the undead that they not only have new laws and customs regarding them, but have managed to turn zombies into a prized consumer commodity.
The Frollo Show features one during the "Frollo Beats up Evil Residents" arc.
The Simpsons' third "Treehouse of Horror" episode has a segment involving Bart getting a book from the "Occult Section" of the school library and attempting to reanimate deceased family cat Snowball I with it; he accidentally reanimates the human graveyard instead.
In a "Treehouse of Horror XX" segment, a tainted Krusty burger causes a 28 Days Later-style outbreak, which leads to the Simpsons barricading themselves inside their house, where they learn that Bart is immune. The zombie hordes burst in, the family escapes, Homer gets bitten but it's hardly much difference, and Bart gets to cure the masses by bathing in their soup.
Although the entire incident was a prank, in a Halloween episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, the "zombies" seem to follow Romero Rules (if you excuse their cry for brains); Mr. Herriman is "killed" and returns as a zombie soon after, a zombie bite turns someone else into a zombie, etc.
Mighty Max had an episode where Max had to travel to Haiti to help his mother investigate the strange behavior of the locals. They had a Zombie Gait and were pretty strong, however they were possessed by slug-like symbiotes (you could kill the slug to free the victim) and tried to attach more slugs to make more "zombies". Eventually Max finds a hive full of them and kills the Queen slug. The victims were fully aware of what they were doing, a unique trait for these zombies.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, out of all the possible cartoons, also plays with this trope. At the beginning of "Bridle Gossip", Twilight Sparkle and Spike wonder why Ponyville's streets are suddenly deserted and why everypony is locking themselves inside their houses. After pondering some possible answers, Spike decides that some kind of zombie apocalypse is going on.
There is an episode of The Smurfs called "The Purple Smurfs" in which Lazy gets bitten by a "purple fly". This turns him purple, makes him aggressive and causes him to bite other Smurfs. The same thing then happens to those Smurfs. As noted above, this is an adaptation of a storyline from the original Smurf comic book.
6teen had a one-hour special in which zombies raid the mall setting of the series, and the main characters try to avoid being bitten. Of course in the end it's all revealed to be a dream had by Judd from watching too many zombie movies.
The Batman had a zombie apocalypse in the episode "Strange New World", courtesy of a toxin created by Professor Hugo Strange. It was eventually revealed that the apocalypse was just an illusion Strange created to trick Batman into releasing the real toxin into Gotham, which Batman figures out at the last moment.
Hilariously subverted in Invader Zim, where the zombies unleashed by mall cop Slab Rankle in FBI Warning of Doom prove to be just as stupid as almost everyone else in the show.
Zim: Nothing stops Zim. Nothing! Not even this filthy army of zombies!
Also played for a Noodle Incident in ''Backseat Drivers from Beyond the Stars":
A bad case of pink eye was going around. Due to some Worcestershire sauce being used to embalm Kenny, he comes back as a zombie and starts infecting people. The local doctor, when visited by some of the infected, mistakes the condition for pink eye and prescribes some topical cream. Stan, Kyle and Cartman, with the help of Chef (who does a great Thriller bit) attempt to stop the zombie threat.
In a season 3 episode of Transformers, the Decepticons are tricked by the Quintessons into releasing a powerful creature called the Dweller. The Dweller drains the energy of any transformer it can capture, turning them into an "energy vampire". Despite this title, they behave almost exactly like zombies - they move slowly, though not quite shambling, and drain the energy from others to make more energy vampires. They even lose all color, becoming gray and lifeless in appearance.
In Transformers Prime the first five episodes concerned the use of Dark Energon, which revived Transformers into a mindless, zombie-like state. They don't spread the virus around, and Dark Energon only affects dead cybertronians, but given that is is AFTER a galactic war, corpses are not exactly in short supply, especially not back home...
Amd then there's the fact that Megatron would have used this zombie army to wipe out humanity. So, a very unique variant of this trope is presented.
The two-part season 3 finale "The Return of Optimus Prime", has everyone affected by the Hate Plague that has spread throughout the galaxy. Optimus used the collected wisdom of the Matrix of Leadership to wipe out the plague.
An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had everyone in Miseryville turn into pickle zombies.
Super Friends had one of the series' scariest stories with "Day of The Plant Creatures" when a meteorite crashes into a swamp and cause a flood of plant creatures who rampage and infect every animal into one of them while the Super Friends race to find a way to stop the disaster.
Adventure Time episode's title "From Bad to Worse" has one (no thanks to Princess Bubblegum even though she admits it's her fault) and is transmitted whenever a victim of zombifcation bites someone. Even though the heroes fail to make the antidote it's revealed near the end that Science is the name of PB's mouse.
The "Going Dutch" episode of Motorcity, although the zombies aren't actually dead people, they're just infected by Nanomachines put out by Kane.
The first (intended) episode of Moral Orel is about this: Orel learns "not to reject Jesus' gift of life" so he believes all the dead people in Moralton are sinning. He uses a necronomicon book to bring back his best friend's dead grandpa (and strip him because he thinks his clothes smell) and within minutes, there's a zombie apocalypse. It turns out most of the adults in Moralton have Skewed Priorities: they're upset that the corpses are naked rather than on a rampage.
For their April Fools 2008 issue, The University at Buffalo's Spectrum college newspaper reported, among other things, about the emergence of the Necro-Animatory Syndrome virus, and the rise of the ambulatory dead ("zombie" being an "outdated and offensive term," though Bush is quoted as nearly using it) out of Cape Canaveral, where the NAS virus had apparently come back with a space shuttle crew. Articles included general information, survival guide, how to recognize an NAS sufferer (not very hard), and what to do if you're bitten (die with dignity, and with a friend to take you out immediately).
The BBC put out another article, this time playing on the Swine Flu scare (H1Z1, a mutation of the H1N1 virus that reanimated the victim after death, who then showed signs of the usual zombie behaviour). It is of course, fake, but the comments on the page are well worth reading.
Some smart-ass hacker in Austin, Texas broke into the controls of two electronic road signs in January of 2009, replacing their usual notices about upcoming construction with warnings of, among other things, "Zombies ahead!". Drivers were amused; city safety officials were not.
Zombie Squad is a disaster-preparedness group that uses the metaphor of a Zombie Apocalypse to encourage people to prepare for real-life emergencies, on the principle that if one is prepared for the dead to rise from their graves en masse to feed on the living, and the collapse of civil order that would inevitably ensue, that dealing with something as prosaic as an earthquake or hurricane is small potatoes.
"Zombie Apocalypse" is a common brainstorming scenario for first responders because it's widespread enough to implicate all of the major disaster relief agencies, but also fictional so it doesn't flare up the usual interservice rivalries.
It's also easier to get civilians to play along, or at the least not panic or send confused messages, if the scenario is clearly fictional.
ZombieFit is a parkour/fitness class designed to prepare participants for the ever-present threat of a zombie apocalypse.
Most nerds/geeks/etc. have put some amount of thought into the subject. Pretty much all of them have plans.
While nearly every (pick your term) has put some amount of thought into it, there is now an entire nerd subculture dedicated to zombies in the same way trekkies are primarily dedicated to Star Trek, with the amount of thought put into their discussions making the Zombie Survival Guide look like Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Foreign Policy magazine had a feature article on how different schools of International Relations theorists would approach the Zombie problem.
The author of the article, Dan Drezner of the Fletcher School for Diplomacy (aka the best foreign affairs school in America), has published a monograph called Theories of International Relations and Zombies. It covers the major paradigms of IR theory and the "corpus" of zombie literature and film. It's an excellent introductory text to IR theory for beginners, and the results show that while a zombie apocalypse would suck, it's unlikely to be the end of humanity. It's also really damned funny.
The Cracked website has dedicated a few lists to analyzing a possible zombie apocalypse in real life.
This article explains the ways it could happen and how likely it is.
This article debunks the lethality of a zombie apocalypse, showing how it would never get very far. A notable example is pointing out how rabies doesn't exactly sweep through the world, so why would zombie infections?
Other organizations have done the same as the spread of a zombie apocalypse apparently models highly infectious epidemics pretty well.
It's possible that zombie tropes may be partially rooted in events during The Black Death or similar plagues. Mass graves were used at times, and high fevers can cause delirium or even brain damage. So if someone was buried haphazardly but recovered from the plague enough to free themselves, witnesses would see an inarticulate, clumsy person covered with sores leaving a graveyard, which would look a lot like a "zombie" even when the trope was unbuilt.
There may have even been plague victims supposedly "attacking" random people, uninfected or not, though this is all likely due to severe hallucinations and clumsy walking. And of course, no plague infected people would actually eat people they came in contact with.
There is also a group called the Zombie Research society dedicated to fact gathering (as such) about zombies.
Zombie Tools is a small company in Missoula, Montana that forges a variety of knives, swords, machetes and other nasty bladed things out of 5160 spring steel and other quality materials. They're designed specifically to cleave through flesh and bone, and therefore zombies.
On February 11, 2013, the Emergency Alert System on several TV stations (particularly in Montana and Upper Michigan) broadcast a warning that the dead were rising from their graves. Ultimately, this was blamed on hackers and the stations' still using the default passwords on their EAS equipment.
Two days later, a radio station in La Crosse, Wisconsin managed to accidentally trigger the EAS on another TV station in their area by playing the exact same clip during their morning show.
During the spread of The Black Death, various infuriated rioting citizens, infected or not, would try to appease God by mutilating themselves in some of the worst imaginable ways possible. In some cases, attacking outposts.
Likewise, mass graves were dug in a hurry and victims throwm in haphazardly. Now, the plague often caused fever delerium and brain damage, so if someone who was Not Quite Dead managed to climb out of the hastily-dug, very shallow grave and shamble toward town...